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Charleston Southern coach Mark Tucker hopes the Buccaneers can notch their second conference victory of the season Saturday at Monmouth. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Charleston Southern will have a bigger hill to climb in its chase for another Big South Conference football title. At least that's the way the league coaches and media members see it.

The Buccaneers were picked to finish third in the six-team league, behind defending champion Kennesaw State and Monmouth. The preseason poll and preseason all-conference team were released Tuesdsay during the Big South media day in Charlotte.

Kennesaw State received 17 of 18 first-place votes with Monmouth collecting the remaining vote. Charleston Southern won back-to-back Big South titles in 2015-16, but lost conference games to both Kennesaw State and Monmouth last season and finished 6-5 overall.

“We have some unknowns up front offensively and defensively, some things we need to get some answers to in a hurry,” CSU second-year head coach Mark Tucker said. “But we’ve had a great summer in the weight room and I’m just excited to get started.

“I like where we are at mind and heart. We’re getting back to where we’ve been, where we’re accustomed to being and that’s a very special place when a group of men find themselves together.”

CSU opens the season on Sept. 1 at Florida.

Six Buccaneers received first-team nods on the all-conference team. The lone offensive selection was junior receiver Kameron Brown, who led the league in yards per catch (22.1) last season.

Brown is the veteran leader of an otherwise young group of receivers and has focused his efforts on helping the younger players learn the system this summer.

“My main focus is just helping the unit,” he said. “Making sure (the young guys) are ready to play.”

Leading the way defensively were senior end Solomon Brown, junior linebacker J.D. Sosebee and senior defensive back Shadarius Hopkins.

“I have high expectations for us going into fall camp,” said Brown, who had eight tackles for loss and 3½ sacks last season. “There’s a lot of things that we need to see and a lot of position battles that will happen, so there will be a lot of excitement. The mentality of the team is very positive and we’re really hungry.”

Punter Kyle Reighard and punt returner Taz Lindsey also were selected to the first-team. Earning honorable mention were placekicker Tyler Tekac, long snapper Ethan Ray and defensive back Brandon Rowland.

Kennesaw State senior quarterback Chandler Burks was named the league’s preseason offensive player of the year while sophomore linebacker Bryson Armstrong was tabbed the preseason defensive player of the year.

Big South Preseason Poll

(first-place votes) 

1. Kennesaw State (17) 107

2. Monmouth (1) 82

3. Charleston Southern 75

4. Gardner-Webb 52

5. Campbell 36

6. Presbyterian 28